At the moment, political parties in the country are busy stock-taking and realigning themselves in readiness for 2019 elections. Once again, there is talk of party manifestos, which spell out their visions as they strategise to win seats in Parliament and councils.
Basically, all party manifestos are similar since they talk about developing the country. What is different are the styles they use in their quest for development. What people must bear in mind is that a party manifesto is not a solution on its own as experience has shown that they are rarely implemented.
In fact, their main purpose is to get parties registered. Despite what is stated above, politicians look for manifestos as statements of their visions.
Meanwhile, every political party—big or small—has an ambition that, given a chance to govern Malawi, it can come up with some unique projects to transform the country.
The UDF government under president Bakili Muluzi introduced free primary education. This development excited most people, especially the poor majority who could not afford school fees.
Unfortunately, the excitement was short-lived because there was increased enrolment of learners without corresponding facilities and teachers. This has drastically reduced the education standards in primary schools. Lack of preparedness is the main reason for failure to fulfil the vision.
Regrettably, such state of affairs can rightly be described as ‘free education’, which is also free of knowledge as Prof. Patrick Lumumba of Kenya once said. Free education is, indeed, a failed vision which needs refining.
Then came president Bingu wa Mutharika with a vision that no leader in Malawi thought about—the Shire-Zambezi Waterway and Nsanje World Inland Port.
To start with, one wonders about which part of the world the Bingu had in mind to sail through the waterway and use of the Nsanje World Inland Port. So far, this project, too, is a failed vision. It is obvious that it was not well-thought out.
Probably, it was just a campaign gymic for DPP, which has, unfortunately, cost the country a lot of money and yet both the port and waterway banks look abandoned and are now choked with weeds.
Meanwhile, President Peter Mutharika has implemented a vision which has not been done before—introduction of community colleges. While the idea is good, the project is not delivering. The original idea was to train youths in various skills, for them to be self-employed. In reality, the story is different. Probably there was no home work done.
Facilities for training are really lacking as a result practical work is nothing to write home about. Students on attachments are really under self-help. They look for their own accommodation and food, in addition to negotiating places for attachments. Those without money for attachments, only learn theory. This is not good because practical work matters a lot for technicians.
If the government can only afford substandard community colleges, what chance is there that they can provide adequate loans to graduating students to be self-employed? With all due respect, it would have made more sense in extending the already established technical colleges of Mzuzu, Lilongwe, Blantyre and other existing technical colleges rather than having some students learn in makeshift shacks.
Lastly, it goes without saying that all the failed visions stated above were for political campaign or Heads of State have been trying to leave a legacy at the expense of the people of Malawi. This is a wake-up call for people to watch out for visionless vision and refuse to support such visions. n